A few months ago, I had my first personal encounter with kidney stones. No, not the kind you pass with pain. These were two boulders that had been growing in the dark for years, too big to go anywhere. Without getting into gory details, the solution was for a urologist to snake a catheter up through my nether regions and then laser the beasts into powder. Invasive but essential. And, thankfully, successful.
I thought that would be the end of it. Not so. Since the surgery, every time I went past a mirror I began to see internal organs suspended in a large bag of water covered with skin that looked like me. The heart was pumping. The kidneys were straining. The lungs were inflating and deflating. It was a totally new way to think of myself—not as a person but as an ambulatory collection of highly specialized but interconnected components.
I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I thought of my body, if I thought of it at all, in these ways:
- Transportation for my head
- A means to a pleasurable outcome
- A means to play tennis
- Something to adorn with handsome clothes.
It’s certainly about time I rethought all that. The whole may be greater than the sum of the parts, but the parts are equally important. They require care and maintenance. That means routine colonoscopies and endoscopies, as well as building relationships with the relevant medical specialists: urologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, ophthalmologist and so on.
Another way to think of it is to imagine all that goes with maintaining a beloved vintage car. I’m happy to say there’s still gas in my tank and I’m ready for the road.